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The best robo-call ever? Or the freakiest?

A Time magazine staffer got a call from a telemarketer who sounded not quite human. That's when the fun -- and the weirdness -- started.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Edward Moyer
2 min read
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With Google buying Boston Dynamics -- maker of some hella terrifying robo-dogs (and -dudes) -- and Ford unleashing a robo Mustang Sally (in the form of a self-driving prototype vehicle), it seems to be the week of the robot.

So here's yet another robo-item for your weekend enlightenment. This one's from a few days back, but it's too good to let pass (and besides, you may've missed it the first time around).

It seems Time magazine's Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer, got a phone call from a telemarketer who almost sounded like a real person. Almost. The pauses and inflection were just a little bit, um, robotic.

So Scherer asked, and the, um, person laughed it off. And the fun began (with other Time reporters joining in).

Check it out. Really, it's way more amusing than Siri. But it also gives you pause. Are we actually this close to some sort of Stepford Wives and Westworld-ish dystopia? "Ha ha. What? No. This is a utopia." Yes, but it would just make me feel so much better if you said the words, This is not a dystopia. "What? Ha ha. Yes, this is a utopia...." Etc. (You can read Time's full report on the episode here).

Update, December 18 at 10:03 a.m. PT: Time published a follow-up story several days after its first take. Citing a rep for the company behind the mysterious voice, the story says, "the American telemarketing robot who denies she is a robot...functions much like a remote-controlled car, directly operated by a real person working in a call center outside the United States." You can read the piece in full here.